One of the as-yet unchanged lines in the national anthem, O Canada, says that we “stand on guard for thee”, as we and those who are in the position to will keep guard over this great dominion.
As we approach Canada’s national birthday on July 1st, we should consider who is standing on guard over all of us this Canada Day: for the most part, it is our emergency responders, such as police, fire, ambulance, and our Armed Forces, including the air force, army and navy.
One of the primary reasons Canada is such a peaceful and peace-loving country is that these amazing selfless men and women have dedicated their lives and daily efforts to serving and protecting our land and all of her citizens, young or old, regardless of gender or religion or ethnicity.
Each one of the branches of first responders put their lives on the line, some more so than others. Armed Forces personnel, for example, take huge risks when they deploy in hostile territory, such as in Afghanistan or in a nursing home in Quebec to care for patients sick with COVID-19.
Our police forces also put their lives on the line, and on our national day of celebration, every citizen should be saying “thank you” to each and every police officer, whether a municipal officer or with the RCMP. They are keeping us safe from criminals, from drunken drivers, keeping the peace in dangerous and uncertain circumstances, and they do so with the primary objective of protecting the peace and upholding our laws.
There are aspects of their work that causes problems under the glare of the ever-present phone video, and when questionable actions occur, these should rightfully be properly and independently investigated.
Police have said for a long time now that their duties are often wide-encompassing, requiring them to respond to situations that sometimes involve violence, such as at domestic disputes or interpersonal family violence — and at times, there are people with mental health issues who may or may not be violent.
There should be more training of police officers in how to approach such a person, and perhaps there should be more specialists on police forces who can specifically go to calls involving people with mental health issues.
There has been a movement in the last few years to be more open and to talk more about mental health, to take away the stigma. Part of that dialogue is to figure out a way to respond properly to such calls so they don’t end unnecessarily in violence or death.
The responsible thing for society is not to give a knee-jerk response like to defund or abolish police. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water! This is not the right approach. Our police do a tough and dangerous job, and we need to support them in that.